What Kiptum’s astonishing victory in London means for the future of marathon majors

ATHLETICS What Kiptum’s astonishing victory in London means for the future of marathon majors

Joel Omotto • 00:00 - 25.04.2023

The 23-year-old has sparked a debate of whether he is the next long distance great after the mercurial Eliud Kipchoge

Kelvin Kiptum’s astonishing run to win Sunday’s London Marathon in the second-fastest time ever over the distance asserted why Kenya remains undefeated in long distance running.

The 23-year-old came to London as a novice, taking on the veterans of the race, but left as the master after missing the world marathon record by just 16 seconds, becoming the fast man to run a sub-2:02 in London while setting a new course record.

His achievements have left the world in awe and set off a debate of what the future will be like if he maintains those lofty standards. Pulse Sports explores what Kiptum’s blistering run means for the 42km race.

World record in danger

Eliud Kipchoge be warned! That is perhaps the thoughts of many given just six months ago, Kiptum had never run a marathon but now has two of the five fastest times over the distance.

On his marathon debut in Valencia last December, Kiptum set the fourth-fastest time on the world all-time list of 2:01:53, becoming only the third man in history to break 2:02 after world record holder Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 and 2:01:39) and Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

He has now lowered that mark and remains only 16 seconds behind the world record and given London is not classified among the fastest courses, we could potentially be writing about a new world record in September if he decides to run in Berlin, where eight of the last 10 have been set.

Heir to Kipchoge?

Shattering the word record will mean breaking Kipchoge’s mark and if that happens, the next conversation will be whether he is the man to take over from the greatest marathoner of all time.

Kipchoge has driven himself to levels not considered human given he has won 12 of 15 marathons he has featured in while he remains the first and only man to run a marathon under two hours.

However, given the levels Kiptum is showing while still being a novice, such dominance cannot be ruled out in future if he remains fit and focused. Sunday’s race also demonstrated that he can do it in both wet and warm weather which is a plus for him given how many marathoners struggle in chilly weather.

Taking over from Kipchoge will be a tough task which will required a disciplined approach, something many have failed in after reaching such heights, and Kiptum must surround himself with the right people if he is to stay on course.

Man for the future

With 40-year-olds Kenenisa Bekele and Mo Farah exiting the scene and Kipchoge, who will be 39 in November, left with a few years before he hangs his spikes, Kiptum is very much the man for the future.

At 23, age is on his side given the elites started the marathons either in their 30s or approaching that age after careers on the track. Kiptum seems to be primarily focusing on marathon which could see him dominate for years if he is able to run into his late 30s as witnessed with the likes of Kipchoge and Bekele.

Fight among brands

As it is emerging, Kiptum is set to be a hot cake with various brands jostling to be associated with him which will see him command mega appearance fees.

Already, Chinese kit manufacturer Qiaodan is reported to be exploring a legal battle after the runner allegedly failed to honour a sponsorship deal, having decided to run in London donning Nike while he reportedly ‘agreed’ to represent them early this year.

Much more is expected in terms of endorsements which will rake in the mega bucks for the athlete and his representatives.